1 independent reviews for Portugal cultural vacation

Reviews for Portugal cultural vacation

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review 12 Jul 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

I chose this vacation as I wanted to stay in the countryside in a quiet area of Portugal and to have a mixture of activities- walks, swimming and canoeing combined with the historical and cultural interest of Tomar and the surrounding area. I booked as a solo traveler rather than in a group with others. The vacation provided everything I wanted- I had an interesting and varied programme which also included meals in local restaurants (included in the price) where I could try local food and wine. Linda, Gilberto and Carlos were so friendly and helpful- I ate with them at the site and at the restaurants and felt like a friend of the family. Highlights were many : swimming and canoeing in the lake which is vast and beautiful, visiting an old lakeside village ( Dornes), the three waterfalls walk through the countryside and the wild flowers, a personal guided tour of the Convento in Tomar and to other sites of historical interest in the area (Almourol castle) by a very knowledgeable English guide and friend. I shared the Convento tour with a another couple, but my second historical tour was just myself- although others staying could have joined to form a small group. I was able to walk a short distance of the Portuguese Caminho which was an unexpected highlight for me. I particularly enjoyed a visit to a small specialist wine cafe (Amor Lusitano) where you could choose a fine wine and a small Portuguese dish to accompany it.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

This was a very interesting and original way to get to know this area of central Portugal. It was very easy for me to get there- I had chosen to fly to Porto. I could have taken the train for which Linda provided very clear instructions and times with the connection from the airport. The train is approximately 2 hours from the centre of Porto. As my flight arrived late afternoon I chose to pay for a transfer and was met by Linda and Carlos at the airport.This had the advantage that I could learn quite a lot about the area on the journey! On my return to Porto I had a short transfer to Entroncamento (20 minutes) then got the train.I felt the vacation was tailored to my interests- Linda had asked about these before I arrived and what was provided suited me perfectly, and the time of year (early June) when the temperature was starting to rise steeply. I was on my own for some activities (as I booked as a solo traveler) but was always accompanied by Linda so didn't feel alone. Where possible I was with one or two others.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

One of the partners in the business is local (Carlos) and shares in the running and management. Local staff are employed to service and maintain the site. We used local restaurants when eating out and a local ( English-speaking) tour guide. We ate fruit grown from the garden and olives are grown which are harvested and pressed locally sharing the work with a local co-operative. The oil is then used in cooking the meals provided or sold to guests. We ate local honey and jams made from the fruit grown. There is a small recycling plant and solar panels for energy and hot water.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Altogether this was a very interesting, relaxing and original vacation with a very personal interest taken in what I would enjoy- so thank you for your friendship and effort. I felt confident as a solo traveler and enjoyed meeting other guests staying independently. I felt I was really starting to get to know a (largely) undiscovered area of Portugal. It was very good to meet Portuguese people - particularly Carlos who ate with us and was so friendly.

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